Chris Coxon, Head of Marketing at Eurocell plc discusses the findings of the firm’s recent report on the importance of building communities as well as homes.
The UK is currently in the largest housing shortage on record – a shortfall of 3.91 million homes. It is estimated that, to address this issue 340,000 new homes must be built every year until 2031. This means that the residential construction sector is under immense pressure to deliver the houses that the country needs.
However, it’s crucial these are not simply built in bulk, without any consideration of the needs and wants of the people that live there. The National Housing Federation, for example, has said that the shortage will only be solved with the right mix of private properties, social rent, intermediate affordable rent and shared ownership properties, so that UK residents have access to the type that is right for them.
In our Future Communities report, we examined how the UK feels about the provision of services when it comes to building homes, alongside how they hope the communities of the future will develop. We drew on a survey of 1,000 respondents, comprising an even split of social housing occupants, homeowners and private renters. This research found that 66% of people feel that too much focus is placed solely on building homes, as opposed to more rounded communities supporting infrastructure.
Over half of those polled for the Future Communities report felt that quickly building a high volume of homes negatively impacts community spirit. Clearly, this absence of a cohesive neighbourhood is an issue that impacts occupants across the board, including a third of respondents in social housing who said that the developments of the future need to be built in a way that encourages community spirit.
Services and infrastructure
Access to services such as schools and GP surgeries has a significant impact on social cohesion and helps communities to form. As the UK builds the number of homes it requires in the coming years, it is crucial to ensure that the services and infrastructures that people rely on in their day to day lives are also developed.
Indeed, in our report, 69% of people said they feel that not enough consideration is given to services and infrastructure during the planning process for homes. This led to 31% of respondents saying that greater consideration needed to be given to the design and build of multi-use buildings during the planning of new developments.
Respondents also said that more should be done to provide parks (28%), leisure facilities such as sports and craft centres (26%) and amenities such as cafes (21%), highlighting further that communities cannot simply be created by building a high volume of houses with the surrounding area and facilities playing a major role in social cohesion. As a result, there needs to be greater collaboration between planners and service providers to develop the facilities that ensure fully functioning communities.
With such a shortage of available housing, there is a concern that the homes and developments of the future will be built with speed in mind, rather than the neighbourhood that the homes are trying to create.
Where does the responsibility lie? With the planners, construction firms, architects and also the Government. As well as those that will be at the coalface of modern infrastructure and residential construction in the coming years, the Government must also play a key role in ensuring current and future regulation is fit for purpose. Only when the sector takes a fully collaborative approach will the communities of the future be a success.
We at PHPD hope that you are coping well with the current circumstances. We understand that COVID-19 has had a huge effect on construction businesses, bringing delays and financial repercussions to owners and workers alike.
We’ve heard from the politicians and now we want to hear from you.